EnvisionTEC’s Steady, Stealthy Rise in Orthodontics 3D Printing

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As 3D printing continues to find applications in dentistry, and specifically orthodontics, one company continues to rise to the top in providing excellence in 3D printed orthodontics. EnvisionTEC, the prolific Michigan-based 3D printer manufacturer, has been around for more than 15 years. The company has been selling 3D printers in dentistry since 2008 and has long been a leader in orthodontic 3D printing , with one of the industry’s largest portfolio of dental materials such as  E-Appliance.

EnvisionTEC Founder and CEO Al Siblani told 3DPrint.com last year, “For me, I think that a company can only continue to grow and succeed as long as you continue to innovate. That’s really what I think about every morning: ‘What are the areas in which I think we can deliver products that will disrupt traditional manufacturing processes, and make a difference?'”

Bite guards created on an EnvisionTEC 3D printer in FDA-approved E-Guard resin.

EnvisionTEC is well known for being the first company to commercialize Digital Light Processing(DLP) 3D printing, which is the preferred technology in the dental field, and sells more than 40 configurations of3D printers that are based on six distinct technologies; nearly 20 of these are for the dental and orthodontics industry.

This industry is adopting 3D printing technology nearly as quickly as the hearing aid industry did, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing its rate of adoption anytime soon…good news for companies like EnvisionTEC, which is one of the sector’s top three manufacturers of 3D printers and materials.

(L-R): EnvisionTEC’s E-Model Light and E-OrthoShape materials.

The company’s  Vida desktop3D printer has been a best-seller in the dental market since it was launched in 2015at the American Association of Orthodontics Annual Session in San Francisco.

In February, at LMT Lab Day Chicago, EnvisionTEC  debuted a production-ready version of the Vida cDLM, which is its fourth3D printer based on the company’s patented, high-speed Continuous Digital Light Manufacturing (cDLM) technology. EnvisionTEC now offers a Micro cDLM and three Vida cDLM models with varying resolutions and build areas.

The largest Vida cDLM can produce 10-12 vertical orthodontic models, in 100 micron layers, in 90 minutes, and six denture bases in 80 minutes at a speed of 47 mm per hour.

EnvisionTEC Vida E-IDB with 3Shape Ortho Analyzer

What makes EnvisionTEC’s continuous 3D printing technology different from others, and more accurate, is that it now uses a patent-pending domeless material tray, which remains flat and parallel during continuous 3D printing for consistency over the whole build area.

But while its selection of 3D printers is impressive, EnvisionTEC has also wisely placed a lot of importance on developing new 3D printing materials for the dental and orthodontics industries, because what good are 3D printed orthodontic aligners and dentures if they aren’t made with quality materials? EnvisionTEC has seven CE- and FDA-approved materials, making it amongthe widest materials portfolio in digital dentistry today.

The company has several dedicated materials for 3D printed orthodontics, including E-IDB for making indirect bonding trays, E-Model resin for creating crown, bridge, and thermoformed aligner models, and as of this past week at LMT Lab Day, the newly launched E-OrthoShape and E-Ortholign orthodontic materials.

E-Ortholign is a new EnvisionTEC material for the direct 3D printing of what is called a “first aligner” in orthodontics.

Affordable E-OrthoShape, a grey material not dissimilar to ABS, prints in 100 micron layers to produce volume production of orthodontic models, which can then be used to create clear thermoformed aligners.

Many aligner companies and laboratories around the world have adopted EnvisionTEC’s innovative 3SP (scan, spin, and selectively photocure) technology for orthodontic applications, and the company’s Vector 3SP Ortho 3D printer, featuring a 300 x 200 x 70 mm build envelope, can produce the following quantities for thermoformed aligners:

  • 15-20 horizontal ortho models at 100 microns/2 hours
  • 55 vertical ortho models at 100 microns/6 hours

The company’s new breakthrough E-Ortholign material, however, is for the direct 3D printing of clear first aligners, which is what orthodontists use once a patient’s brackets are removed to hold the teeth in place before multiple thermoformed aligners finish the treatment. This device is the golden goose of digital dentistry.

“The challenge is real to deliver a material that can directly print aligners with the proper biocompatibility, stability, flexion and strength,” Siblani wrote in January.

EnvisionTEC 3D printers can quickly and easily produce first aligners in an office or lab setting, once a post-bracket removal scan has been taken of a patient’s teeth. Its new E-Ortholign material meets all of the biocompatibility, flexion, stability, and strength requirements for first aligners, and is currently moving through the necessary regulatory approval processes.

All of EnvisionTEC’s dental and orthodontic materials can be processed on the company’s powerful DLP systems, such as the Vida and Micro desktop 3D printers, making EnvisionTEC a perfect choice for the chairside 3D printing that is on the horizon.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

[Images: EnvisionTEC]

 

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